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Finished miniatures Kill Team Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k

Five Hive Fleet Balaur Genestealers wrapped up

Last night I finished my first minis since May 20, 2021: one Hive Fleet Balaur Fire Team for Kill Team, a unit of Genestealers. These guys were a ton of fun to paint, and given that I started them on April 8, went on a short vacation, and worked on my Warriors during the 16 days it took me to finish them, I feel pretty much back on track with painting.

Hive Fleet Blue Steel

Their underbellies creep me out a bit
Golden angles
Front
Back

I figured I’d shoot one with some terrain, too.

Hive Fleet Balaur scuttling through the ruins

And why not take advantage of the rare opportunity to do a before/after? I painted the blue/pink Genestealers (from Space Hulk) in 2012. It’s not quite “10 years later,” though, because I didn’t paint anything from 2012 to 2020, when I got back into painting and starting both taking it seriously and actually enjoying it. So it’s really more of a “two years of progress” before/after, since this is how I was painting in 2020.

Current way vs. old way, front view
Rear view

Nid thoughts

This was my second time glazing, and the first time I haven’t painted over my efforts and gone with a different technique. (I tried glazing a Custodes sword several times, but just couldn’t get it right.) My glazing isn’t great, but these first four Scything Blades taught me quite a bit; I’m hoping to improve my technique as I work on my Warriors.

I’ve also never used dotting tools before. Still room for improvement there as well, but there’s just not that much surface to work with on Genestealers and I didn’t want to overwhelm their shading. The Warriors’ carapaces are a larger canvas, so I’m looking to step up my game on them.

As a splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Leviathan, I like how my twist on Leviathan’s color scheme turned out. There are at least two official Leviathan color guides out there (one in White Dwarf and one on Warhammer TV), but the main differences between Leviathan and Balaur are the toxic green claws and spotted carapaces.

My goal for these Genestealers was to evoke brightly-colored bugs and poison dart frogs, and to combine that with a “snake’s underbelly” body color for an unsettling — maybe even unpleasant — look that befits the terrifying nature of Tyranids.

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Kill Team Miniature painting Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Tyranid Warriors and Genestealers

With my Genestealers’ initial base/wash/drybrush done, I based them and then tested some base rim options.

Doombull, Rhinox, Khorne, Squig
Wild Rider, Wazdakka, Doombull

Doombull Brown is the clear winner in my book, so that’s what I’ll be using for my Tyranids.

Genestealers based and with their full initial base coat in all colors; next comes touch-ups

I also took a box of Tyranid Warriors on vacation with me, and spent some quiet time trimming and filing them. I just wrapped up assembly on the first one (Venom Cannon, Boneswords, and Toxin Sacs), so now he’s in my impromptu drying station.

These minis are every bit as cool as I hoped they would be

Both Hive Fleet Balaur units for my first Kill Team are coming along nicely, and I’m in the groove. If I find myself in a painting mood, I could have my Genestealers completely wrapped up this weekend.

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Kill Team Miniature painting Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Genestealers

After letting the glue on the Genestealers I built last night cure overnight, finalizing my color scheme this morning, and writing a color guide for Hive Fleet Balaur, I sprayed these five bad boys:

Even though it was only about 40 degrees out, the rattle can still worked great

While they were drying (Citadel’s rattle cans really are paint-ready in 15 minutes; I love them), I nipped out to Mox for the four paints I was missing. Then I got my ducks in a row for a painting session.

I’d say pardon my dusty desk, but I hate dusting so my figures are almost always dusty

I’ve seen Genestealers painted basically all one color (like the current studio paint jobs for Leviathan) or about 50/50 (like the old Space Hulk models, with their blue bodies and pink hands), and I decided to split the difference. I’m giving them carapaces on their backs, basically from the tail joint up, and treating the rest of the body — including the carapace-like tail and chest/belly — as skin/body tone (whitish-pink).

Among other things, that will let me practice my mottling on these guys before doing it on my Warriors, who are larger and have more carapace areas to paint. I also don’t love the studio Leviathan scheme for Genestealers, which I find too monotone; expanding what counts as carapace lets me avoid that.

First wash applied; I love this unwholesome pink!

Post-drybrush, they’re not as off-white as the studio models, but they’ve definitely changed:

The main body now only needs its final Pallid Wych Flesh highlight

I decided to go back and re-reestablish the Carroburg Crimson in their vents and joints, but that didn’t magically make my drybrushing as adept as a GW studio painter’s work. Maybe the final highlights will balance things out a bit? We’ll see.

Base elements now finished, texture paint applied and drying

I took a closer look at some Leviathan nids in the 8e codex and White Dwarf #463, and I’m pretty sure some of them have a Pallid Wych Flesh drybrush over their Screaming Skull drybrush — so I gave that a shot. It makes a difference! In natural light, this guy reads much whiter:

After the second drybrush was applied

I’m going to call that “close enough for splinter fleet purposes” and move on. Time for some Naggaroth Night!

Quickly checking the compatibility of my two other primary base colors

Once I had the carapace roughed in, I threw a quick coat of Incubi Darkness — my other primary base color — on the claws so I could get a feel for how things will look down the road. Both colors will get darker before they get highlighted up, and I’m hoping the final layers will bring them tonally in line with the flesh while still keeping them dark enough for satisfying contrast.

Heck, how about a quick and dirty test to see what Warpstone Glow and Sybarite Green might look like?

I’m not sure glazing is worth the effort on small claws like these — simple layers look pretty solid

Oh yeah! It fits Balaur’s origins, the colors work together — I’m digging this. I can’t wait to see it with the mottling on the carapace!

This is the most painting I’ve done in about seven months, a full day of thinking about, writing about, and painting Tyranids. It feels good.

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Kill Team Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k WIP it good

Hive Fleet Balaur’s first model

The best way to get stuck in is to get stuck in, so after noodling about Hive Fleet Balaur, I got stuck in and built my first nid.

I think this is an older kit, but it’s a really good older kit
At first I wasn’t sold on the 25mm base, but once I got rolling I started liking how nimble it makes the Genestealers feel
All done! No names (which feels super weird!), so since I want to always be able to identify my first Tyranid I added a unique skull to his base.
I went for a wide, sprawling pose; the posability with four arms is a ton of fun

And a little while later, I’ve got a whole Fire Team built: 5 Genestealers, including some equipment choices (Feeder Tendrils on second from left, Flesh Hooks on fourth from left). I built the first two without even realizing that the Rending Claws on normal Genestealers never appear on all four arms — but in 2021 Kill Team, they can! A happy accident, as Bob Ross would say.

5/8 of my Kill Team

I already love these guys. This is going to be fun!

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Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Space Hulk Genestealer showcase

Space Hulk has consumed my imagination since I was about 12 years old, and actually getting it to the table to play — with miniatures that didn’t make me sad, and which were painted by me — has been a lifelong dream that’s never been closer to fruition than it is now.

The game (at least the 3rd Edition, the one I have) comes with 22 Genestealers, and I finished painting all of them in 2012 or 2013. Until I started working on my Terminators in February of this year, these were my most recent painted minis.

They incorporate everything I’ve learned from past painting sprees, which I’ve shared and critiqued here on Yore: reasonably careful base coating; color-matched drybrushing, rather than just white, and not too heavy on it; an ink wash courtesy of the Dip Method; and walking that line between trying so hard to be perfect that I never paint any miniatures and not being so sloppy about it that it’s a waste of time.

Deep breath. Let’s see how they look in the lightbox.

Let shine the lidless eye

My lightbox is pretty small, around 9″ x 9″, and there’s no way I can cram all 22 minis in there at once. So I’ve picked one of each pose (I think I got them all), a representative 11 out of the 22.

Games Workshop knows how to sculpt dramatic poses!

I like how the veiny head on Mr. Righty turned out, and the decking on both of them is some of the best I’ve done. Base coat in Leadbelcher, bolts picked out in gold (not sure which one), washed with Minwax PolyShade floor varnish, and drybrushed with Mithril Silver.

A runner, a lurker, and a showoff
Alas, poor Yorick!
Look at this fool who brought a sword to a Genestealer nest
The massive Brood Mother

She deserves a larger look, and from the other side. Such a cool sculpt! I’m curious what she’d look like with a lighter wash than the Dip, and with less drybrushing — or perhaps drybrushing in two steps with two colors. But overall I’m happy with her.

Mmm, licorice whips

These are my two overall favorites in some ways. The decking on the one bursting through the floor rewarded my simplistic base coat + wash approach by looking exactly like rusty spaceship deck plating.

Rear views of a couple from the pics above

I like these two from the back, as well. The texture on the taller’s one back spines and the rustiness of the deck plating on the short one came out nicely. On the flipside, the pile of armor could have used more drybrushing and the Genestealers’ claws could probably have used less.

This guy was a lot of fun to paint
Not quite as strong from this side

The guy running down the busted strut is just such a dynamic sculpt, I love it. I had fun with him. I’m still figuring out how to showcase an individual mini in the lightbox, but this feels like I’m on the right track.

I can see where I blobbed on too much gold on the bolts, and where the wash didn’t “take” on the left end of the base — but I still love this mini. The head, especially the teeth and the jawline, looks solid. The skulls have depth, and they pop against the rusty metal of the space hulk’s architecture.

Hopefully when I look back after painting my next 85 miniatures (doubling my approximate lifetime count), I’ll have improved by leaps and bounds — or at least measurable, joyful hops — from these Genestealers. But as they stand, they were my best work prior to February 2020.

And they’ve inspired me to take a bit more time on my Terminators, especially in the final detailing pass before the ink wash — to nail the little specks and spots of color, the wax seals and other pieces of flair. Terminators love a good bedazzling; I owe it to the Emperor to bedazzle my heart out.